Living a life of service
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God?. Hebrews 9:13-14 CSB
To understand the depth of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we must understand what the Old Testament sacrifices did to the worshippers of God during that time. These sacrifices were done for “the purification of the flesh.” The “blood of goats and bulls,” were offerings provided on the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:1-19), while the “ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled,” was an offering provided to purify the ritually unclean (see. Numbers 19:1-10). All of these sacrifices were made to cleanse the outward condition of the individual and provide temporary ceremonial purity. Yet, these sacrifices did not offer inward, permanent spiritual cleansing. So, in light of these animal sacrifices, the rhetorical question offered by the author then is “how much MORE will the blood of Christ,” meaning that Christ’s blood was even greater and more effective than what those previous sacrifices had done. First, the sacrifice was made “through the eternal Spirit.” This is not necessarily a reference to the Holy Spirit, but rather in reference to Christ’s own spirit. In combination with that, secondly, Christ willingly “offered Himself” both physically and spiritually on the cross. As opposed to animal sacrifices which are unaware of the act, Christ, knowing what He would face on the cross, still volunteered to proceed, intentionally obeying the will of the Father. Finally, Christ’s was “without blemish to God.” The Lord Jesus was perfect in character and spiritual purity. Christ sacrifice was all done to “cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God.” The blood of Christ cleanses the sinner’s conscience to make him an obedient servant of God. Unquestionably, sin is an internal matter that issues from the heart of man. The Lord Jesus Christ describes the heart as the source of evils: “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:21–22). The act of cleansing man from sin must begin with his inner being; as the author of Hebrews writes, “our consciences.” Through Christ, believers are transformed from pointless works that do not lead to salvation, but rather, to willing worship and service to God, as Christ had done and displayed. It is the blood of Christ that effectively cleanses man’s conscience by turning him from a life that leads to spiritual death to a life spent in love and obedient service for God. The believer keeps God’s commandments not because of obligation but out of a sense of gratitude for what Christ in God has done for him. The believer, saved from a life of sin that leads to death, now lives a life of service for his living God.
Isaac De Guzman